Alfriston looks for Bonecrusher reward after 2000 Guineas effort

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Fresh from nearly causing a 78-1 Classic boilover at , will be aiming to show on Saturday that the run was no fluke.

Alfriston led for much of the Group 1 2000 Guineas (1600m) earlier this month, fighting hard down the straight to finish fourth, just 1.25-lengths behind Pier.

He has since returned to his Cambridge base and will resume his campaign in Saturday's Group 3 Bonecrusher Stakes (1400m) for three-year-olds at Pukekohe.

“He had 10 days off after Christchurch, but he's worked his way back up again and he's doing well,” trainer Chris Wood said.

“Saturday's kick-off point again and I'm really happy with him. He worked well today (Tuesday).”

Alfriston had won two of his six starts leading into Riccarton, but both were on the Cambridge synthetic track and he started at long odds in the Guineas after finishing seventh in the Group 2 James and Annie Sarten Memorial (1400m) at Te Rapa on October 22.

“He copped a wet track at Te Rapa and he didn't enjoy that,” Wood said.

“I think everybody thought he was just a Polytrack horse, but I had other ideas and I think I was proven right.

“On the day down there at Riccarton he missed the start a bit as well and had to do a bit of work to get there. Once there he set his own pace and he found the line well. It was a good run.”

Alfriston is from the first crop of the Melbourne Group 3-winning sprinter Jukebox, a son of the four-time leading Australian sire Snitzel, best-known as a sire of sprinters.

Wood said Alfriston is likely to follow the black type three-year-old races for the next few starts and he'd be given a chance at some stage beyond 1600m.

“He got the mile alright well at Christchurch, but I don't know if he'll get much further, and he's from the first crop of Jukebox so we don't know how far they will go yet,” Wood said.

“We will give him a chance at further at some stage; he does settle quite nice in his races and travels on the bridle, so we'll see what comes.”

Alfriston, who will again be partnered by , is the second-highest rated horse among the 16 nominees for the Bonecrusher Stakes.

The highest-rated nominee is recent Group 3 (1100m) runner-up Sacred Satono, who missed the 2000 Guineas due to a skin disease.

Other nominees include and , fourth and fifth recently at Tauranga behind subsequent Group 3 Wellington Stakes (1600m) winner , and Devastate's in-form stablemate .

Wood is set to have two other runners at Pukekohe in the form of Jack The Lass and , both of which contest the Rating 65 Dunstan Feeds Stayers Championship Qualifier (1500m).

“Jack The Lass has been looking for some decent ground, and hopefully we will be able to get that on Saturday, and Rusavy's in the same boat,” Wood said.

“I really like Jack The Lass. She's a good progressive mare and she'll go through the grades pretty quickly.”

Prior to that, Wood will send Smug down to New Plymouth on Thursday for an 1800m maiden. He has finished second and fourth at his last two starts and should be competitive.

“He's a funny wee fella. He's one of the more natural jumpers I've had in the stable who just loves his fences, but I think there's a flat win or two in him before he does that.”

Wood has a team of 14 at the moment, headed by Alfriston and his three-time winner Funtonic, who finished second at a trial on November 10 and is likely to resume at Te Rapa on December 10. His initial target will be the Stella Artois Championship Final (1500m) at Pukekohe on Boxing Day.

“He's come up really well this time and he's matured mentally. His work's been good, he's big and strong, and he should pick up a nice race or two through the spring and summer.”

So far this season Wood has had five winners. Two have come through the promising stayer Canheroc, who will also race next at Te Rapa on December 10; the other three were all on the synthetic track at Cambridge, which Wood is a big fan of for both racing and training.

“I love the synthetic. I don't work everything on it, but it's available rain, hail, or shine. It's a lovely, consistent surface and my horses seem to enjoy it,” he said.

“It's an alternative to bog tracks in the winter, and I know we've got to have the bog tracks because some horses are wet trackers, but the synthetic provides an opportunity for horses that prefer better footing to keep them going through the winter.”

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